by Richard S. Ehrlich | Bangkok, Thailand
A ten-day meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) ended in South Korea after expressing support for the world’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, reunification of the war-torn Korean peninsula, African rape victims and others.
“Some 5,000 Christians, representing more than 300 churches from more than 100 countries” gathered in Busan from October 30 to November 8 at the WCC Assembly which meets every seven years, the organization said on its Facebook page.
In the WCC’s closing prayer, South Africa’s Father Michael Lapsley mentioned his “Facebook friends” and said “God is not limited in the way wisdom is delivered to the human family. For example, I regularly read my NRSV Bible downloaded free on my Samsung phone.”
Lapsley also expressed support for HIV-AIDS sufferers, African rape victims, and honored “the Armenian genocide” of 1915.
“Today I want to say as a Christian, as a priest, to all the LGBTI community, I am deeply sorry for our part as religious people, in the pain you have experienced across the ages,” Lapsley said, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
“I have a dream that in my lifetime, I will hear all the leaders of all our great faith traditions making the same apology,” Lapsley said.
“Whilst we have been here in Busan, it was decided in Germany that children could for the first time be registered as male, female, or the space could be left blank — an historic step towards relieving and acknowledging the pain for those who are born intersexed or find themselves to be transgendered.
“We know, as St. Paul taught us, that in Christ there is neither male nor female,” Lapsley said.
The WCC also broadcast messages on an Internet-linked video “news program” including interviews with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, plus a report on the gigantic “Smoky Mountain” garbage dump where impoverished people pick among trash to find items to recycle on the outskirts of Manila, capital of the predominantly Catholic Philippines.
“The Assembly took action by adopting statements and minutes on issues including peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula,” the WCC said.
“The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches,” the WCC said.
“At the end of 2012, there were 345 member churches. While the bulk of the WCC’s founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific,” it said.
*************Richard S. Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based journalist from San Francisco, California, reporting news from Asia since 1978, and recipient of Columbia University’s Foreign Correspondent’s Award. He is a co-author of three non-fiction books about Thailand, including “Hello My Big Big Honey!” Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews; 60 Stories of Royal Lineage; and Chronicle of Thailand: Headline News Since 1946. Mr. Ehrlich also contributed to the final chapter, Ceremonies and Regalia, in a new book titled King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life’s Work: Thailand’s Monarchy in Perspective.